Young Falmouth hockey player on the rise

Published on March 5, 2017

William Shields, 10, a rising star in the hockey world, at the Newport and District Arena, where he plays with the Atom AA West Hants Warriors.

©Colin Chisholm

BROOKLYN, N.S. - William Shields, just 10 years old, sinks into a giant office chair in the boardroom at the Newport and District Arena in Brooklyn for his first ever interview.

The Falmouth resident is noticeably a little nervous at the start, but once he starts to talk about his favourite thing in the world – hockey - he hits his stride.

He plays for the Atom AA West Hants Warriors out of Brooklyn and is hoping to help take his team to the provincial finals in April.

“I started playing hockey at my house, holding a stick when I was two, and I probably started on ice when I was four or five,” William said inside the arena.

Playing centre, William says the team has improved greatly in the last year. And with an almost undefeated regular season, few could doubt that.

“I just find it very fun and I like how it’s fast,” he said. “Slow games I find really boring, so I find if it’s fast and more intense, then it’s just better.”

His coaches have praised him, some saying he could be the best Atom-level player in the province.

William, of course, is a bit more humble.

“I think I have a little bit of skill, but I’m probably just as equal as the other players,” he said. “I try and just keep playing, and, yeah.”


Hometown heroes

William’s ambition is to make it to the NHL someday, like his hockey hero Sidney Crosby.

“I always find that the NHL is a big influence to everybody, all of the players and everything, and I just want to make it in to there to play high-level hockey,” he said. “That’s probably every kid’s dream.”

Crosby isn’t the only hockey player he looks up to - his next-door neighbour and friend Cole Burbidge, at the ripe old age of 11, inspires William to play better as well.

“He’s just a year older than me but he plays Acadia AAA peewee hockey this year,” William said. “His sister, who’s 13, is also a very good player and they’ve both helped me a lot. She gave me my first hockey stick and he’s taught me a lot of shots and moves.”

William Shields, 10, a rising star in the hockey world, at the Newport and District Arena, where he plays with the Atom AA West Hants Warriors.

©Colin Chisholm

West Hants Warriors

The Warriors, despite having an almost undefeated regular season, are in a tough spot in the playoffs and are in a must-win situation against the Yarmouth team.

William said he’s confident they can get to the finals.

“We’re hoping to get to the Day of Champions, we made it to the finals last year but lost, this year I think we can make it,” he said. “We just have to keep passing the puck. We have had a few downfalls in our games, but we’ve got some coming up I’m hoping to win and move on.”

The team’s makeup alone is helping them succeed, he added.

“I think we can go really far and we’re doing really good,” he said. “Last year we didn’t have much chemistry, but this time everyone knows everyone and everyone’s friends.”

For William, his biggest incentive to get into the provincials? To prolong the hockey season, just so he can keep playing.

“We get to stay together as a team and on the ice, it’s just fun,” he said.

William Shields (left) and his younger brother, Matthew Shields, after winning the Maritime Classic Tournament last fall.


Off the ice

Outside of playing hockey, William also enjoys playing soccer with friends and running around and hanging out, typical 10-year-old stuff.

Now in Grade 5, his favourite classes are math and gym, although he’d almost always rather be on the ice.

“I’m just thinking about having fun, but sometimes when we’re losing a game by one goal, I’m thinking of the play to get the goal and telling people where they should be,” he said.

To get ready for a game, William likes to practise his stick handling while listening to music - really loud music.

His dad, Chris Shields, who is also the manager of the team, said they deal with volume, even if it is the same five songs over and over.

William’s younger brother Matthew, nine, also plays on the team. William said he likes being able to play with his brother – and it’s also convenient.

“It’s good, I like how we don’t have to drive to his games and my games, we get to just go together,” he said.

Chris said he’s tried to keep a solid hockey-life balance with William.

“We’ve gone through it year to year, even when he was four and five, people would say he comes to it naturally,” Chris said. “He certainly gets focused during the games, that’s one thing that I see on the ice.”

And he has a passion for the game.

“He loves it, goes out, and has fun,” he said. “The team lost recently and some of the kids were really upset. I’m sure (William) was upset, but he didn’t let it phase him.”

Chris said his son has been able to make friends all over the province through hockey.

“He does well in school, maybe not his favourite thing to do, but we try to take a year to year perspective,” he said. “If it does transition to playing hockey long term - a player, a coach, whatever it may be - that’s great.”

Did you know?

UPDATE: The West Hants Warriors won the deciding game on March 5 against Yarmouth, 14-3. William Shields scored seven goals during that game.

They have another game coming up on March 11 and If they win that, they’ll schedule the rest of the playoff round.

The provincial championships, called the Day of Champions, takes place between April 7 and 9 in Bridgewater.